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January 3, 2012

Dog Breath: Pranayama in Action. ~ Megan Romo

The power of breath battles a six-pound designer dog.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received came from the owner of the joint where I board my dog.

“She doesn’t act like a little dog,” the gal told me, “She’s obedient.”

I shone with pride. My dogter behaved well at camp!

A hallmark of the small dog is that it’s given too much latitude to do whatever it pleases and therefore sucks at listening. But not my pup. I give the girl no options. She has to come when I say. She has to go when I command. She’s not permitted the lackadaisical lifestyle of a tiny dog.

And I must tell you that she’s not a barker either.

When someone asks me what kind of a dog I’ve got I’m always a bit bashful to answer—not because I’m embarrassed of my dog or regret my choice, but instead because I know what misconceptions I’ll be dealing with as soon as I utter, “I’ve got a Yorkie.”

When people hear that they envision a spoiled little monster who won’t shut the hell up. Such is not the case with my canine. I swear it. She’s only allowed to bark when we go on a walk. And then it’s only at other dogs—‘cause I consider that a friendly neighborhood conversation between pups—and not at human people.

My tiny dog is obedient. And she’s not a yapper. (Momma’s proud, can’t you tell?)

But, she’s still true to her breed in that she’s a bit, shall we say, squirrelly and high-strung. When I come home from work it’s hard to hold onto her—she wiggles so thoroughly with excitement that I damn near drop the six-pound thing. Same goes for when I pick her up from camp or the groomer.

There I am, the dumb pet-owner who didn’t bring a leash and looks like an idiot, trying not to lose control of a blur of black and tan fuzz. After years of the same ol’ same ol’ you think I’d just bring in the leash. But no.

Though I have recently implemented a new tactic to calm down the dog and it’s working great.

Her enthusiastic wigglery was especially intense the other day when my husband and I went together to pick her up from the groomer. A strong man and not small, he could barely control the wild animal trying to simultaneously wrap herself around his neck, lick him to the marrow, and wiggle the lower half of her body in glee. He tried to talk her down, “C’mon Soph. Baby, be calm”

It didn’t work. Though we’ve never stopped trying to teach her, after five years living in our house the dog doesn’t yet speak English.

My husband’s face read incredulity when I told him what he should be doing instead, “Get a firm hold, bring her close to your chest, stop talking and do some deep breathing.”

“Seriously?”

“Right.”

I’ve been aiming for years to get the guy on a mat, and he looked as if he suspected me of some yoga trickery.

“It’ll work. I swear,” I said.

So he took my word for it and did as I suggested, snuggling her, shutting up, and doing his version of self-conscious Ujayii breathing.

Within a few seconds our dog was cuddled happily in his arms, calm and contented.

The husband figure looked at me surprised.

“See, I’m in yoga for more than the clothes,” I responded, “My practice has practical application outside my claims of peace and presence in daily living. When Soph and I are at the vet waiting I do Ujayuii breathing to get her to chill out.”

(He knows what this is. Yet he still doesn’t practice . . . )

“Weird,” he said, smelling our clean and suddenly calm dogter.

“Practical,” I replied, settling into the driver seat. “Pranayama is practical.”

Megan Romo gave up a few weeks into yoga teacher training when she realized that she’s too selfish to focus on anyone else’s practice but her own. She’s not ashamed of that anymore. Instead she likes to call it a honed self awareness born of years on the mat. Presently in the throes of an MFA in creative nonfiction, Megan’s decided now’s not the time to kick the diet soda habit. Follow Megan’s whatnot on her blog Remarks From Sparks and keep up on her graphic art on Facebook.

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